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Words Can Hurt

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Birds chirped, the sun shone in our faces, we picked dandelion bouquets, we caught caterpillars and named them before setting them free, we played tag on the playground, we swung on the swings: welcome to the fifth grade. What a wonderful year. Don’t you remember? The last year of recess and “playing” (after this we’d “hang out”) and birthday parties with the whole class invited.

Well great. Now that I’ve got you in a nostalgic mood, it’s time to get you to face the darker side of fifth grade—bullying. You think it’s impossible for sweet little ten-year-olds to harbor a cruel thought in their pretty little heads? Think again.

For years of my elementary school experience I’d had trouble making friends. I was shy. But in second grade I made a friend, I’ll call her Callie. Callie and I became very close—close enough for our second grade teacher to decide to put us together with the same teacher in the third grade. Every year after that, our teachers paired us into the same class, and we became better friends; doing everything that friends are supposed to do.
My fifth grade year a third girl, I’ll call her Sam, joined my friend group. We three did everything together: we sat together at lunch, played together during recess, and colored together during art class. I don’t know what I did wrong, but for whatever reason, one day they turned against me.

The first thing I remember was after a reading group and right before lunch. I had gotten a book about war, and I didn’t want to read it. Callie said that she’d gotten a war book, and Sam did too. I opened my mouth to say that at least we were suffering together, like everything we did, when Callie snapped at me to stop complaining about it already. I was heartbroken and tears filled my eyes. This was, after all, my best friend. At least Sam was still loyal to me—for now.

The next thing was fairly simple, but still just as painful. I found a note in my locker from both Callie and Sam. It was a list of all the reasons that they didn’t like me—a whole page of paper—including the fact that I was a baby and they didn’t want to be my friend. I cried, and when I wouldn’t tell my teacher what was wrong, he sent me to the counselor.
Situations similar to these happened several other days throughout the year. One day I wrote a letter telling my teacher what was going on, since I was too afraid to actually tell him what was happening. Honestly, I don’t remember exactly what happened after that; I think my teacher talked to my so-called friends to get them to stop. I won’t pretend that how they acted toward me didn’t change my life at all; it did. For the worse for a while—but now, I think it was for the better.



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